A friend asked me a bra question. I decided this would make a great blog post. Reposted with her permission!
Question: OK, so new issue in my still bigger than pre baby chest, and I figure by 6 months, without breastfeeding I'm stuck like chuck.
If I don't wear a bra for too long, my back hurts like heck, if I wear one for too long, my ribs hurt. I got measured, the chick said this is the proper fit, does that just happen with larger chests?
(answer behind the jump)
Answer: Where did you get measured at? Most places follow this stupid "add 5 inches" rule when determining your band size. According to most places, I would wear a 36 to 38 band. I am most comfortable in a 34. I measure at about 32 inches. I am actually considering trying some 32 bands next time I go bra shopping. I would suggest measuring yourself.
wear a bra. measure your rib cage where the bra band fits. If you add anything to this, add 2 inches at most (just like my 32 measurement into a 34 bra). Then measure across your bust at the fullest point. The difference between the bust measurement and band measurement is your cup size (i.e. 4"=D,5"=DD). And that is where you start when trying them on.
I have pretty big boobs with no baby. My bust measures about 11 inches bigger than my band, but I don't have back pain. even when going all day with no bra. I do get some rib pain, but I also have arthritis there. If your band moves around at all, it will rub on your ribs and cause pain, and it means your band is too big. This can be avoided a little with soft cup bras (no wire). I have one that I wear on days when my arthritis is real bad, but even that hurts my ribs sometimes. Who would have thought you could get arthritis in your ribs?
You might also want to watch your posture. If you are slouching when not wearing a bra, it could be causing/adding to your back pain. I know that sitting slumped over my computer all day leads to pain and tightness in my upper back.
Basically, I think the fitter may have been trained wrong. Sure, she may think you are in the right size based on what she knows, and chances are that she is putting you in the right cup (or close to it) for that band size, but I bet the band is 1 to 2 sizes too big. Try this - if you can hook a new bra on the tightest hook comfortably, the band is too big. A new bra should be worn on the loosest hook to allow room for stretch as you wear it.
Response: I got measured at Victoria Secret. I'm in a 38 DDD or a small F (small F like that exists?)
Answer: Never let Victoria size you. Her secret is silicone. I never saw one of those bras that fit in the band. According to their site, I would wear a 38DD, and the US equivilant of my bra size is 34I. Yes I.
I did a google search and couldn't find any specialty shops in [your area], but there is a Dillards. I had a good experience there the one time I was fitted there. Fittings are free and their Cabernet brand is inexpensive with a decent size range. After there, Lane Bryant has a good range and prices (I just wouldn't trust their fitters).
The band should fit snug on the loosest hook without pinching. Move around a bit in the bra, stretch your arms up. If the band moves at all, ask for a size smaller. Be Firm!
OH and yes, a small F exists. Some women are just inbetween the standard cup sizes. At that point, whether you go up or down depends on the bra's structure and material. I would recommend a molded cup bra on the size up.
** I did not clean this up much. I think I will answer future questions with blog posts in mind instead of rambling on and on.